Jul 30, 2018

Auditory-independent repeatability in the generation of an individually unique, species-specific song structure in songbird, canary
Published in Scientific Reports

Auditory information plays a critical role in vocal learning by songbirds and humans, both to memorize model sounds and to monitor own vocalizations. But it remains to be understand how the individual uniqueness of learned vocal features is developed independently from audition. Our member Dr. Wada and his colleagues demonstrated that an open-ended vocal learner, the canary, annually recapitulates individually unique songs without audition.

The canaries learn new syllables to some extent as adult. They deteriorate their 1st year’s crystallized song to degree of subsong/early-plastic song, characterized by amorphous and variable song structure, after which new songs are re-crystallized with partially replaced syllables. In deafened canaries, approximately 60% of the syllables were yearly reproduced with consistent acoustic features, whereas the remaining syllables were replaced with new ones in an annual cycle of song development. These results indicate that the open-ended vocal learning of canaries involves an audition-independent innate mechanism to generate and retain individual uniqueness within a species-specific song pattern.

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Chihiro Mori, Wan-chun Liu, and Kazuhiro Wada*
Recurrent development of song idiosyncrasy without auditory inputs in the canary, an open-ended vocal learner Scientific Reports 8:8732, June 07, 2018